What conservatives said Obama's speech didn't sound like: Churchill, Henry V, Gettysburg Address

››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

In their analyses of President Obama's December 1 speech outlining his Afghanistan strategy at the U.S. Military Academy, conservative pundits complained that the speech didn't sound like speeches previously delivered by political figures including George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Henry V.

Speech didn't sound like "Henry V or Churchill," "not exactly the Gettysburg Address"

Krauthammer: "It's not exactly the kind of speech that you would have heard from Henry V or Churchill." In a post-speech panel, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said, "It's not exactly the kind of speech that you would have heard from Henry V or Churchill. And it's not exactly the kind of speech you that heard from George Bush when he announced his surge."

Krauthammer's "Henry V" reference is an apparent allusion to the St. Crispin's Day speech given by the title character to his troops in William Shakespeare's play Henry V.

O'Reilly: "[N]ot exactly the Gettysburg Address." On The O'Reilly Factor following the speech, Bill O'Reilly said: "I did not see a Winston Churchill-type performance," adding that the speech was "OK, but not exactly the Gettysburg Address."

Hannity: "I didn't hear Winston Churchill, I didn't hear Ronald Reagan, I didn't hear George Bush." On a post-speech edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity said, "I didn't hear Winston Churchill, I didn't hear Ronald Reagan, I didn't hear George Bush. I didn't hear a level of commitment that instilled in me the confidence that this president realizes the absolute necessity of victory and the devastation it would cause if we're not completely victorious."

Douthat: Speech didn't sound like Bush's surge speech. In a December 1 blog post, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote:

Indeed, in this regard I think it's worth comparing tonight's speech, unfavorably, to George W. Bush's address announcing the Iraqi surge. Whereas that speech was tightly focused on the shift in military and diplomatic strategy, Obama's remarks tried to cover the history of the American involvement in Afghanistan, the state of our domestic politics, and even the nature of America's mission in the world, while pre-butting various possible attacks on his decision-making. Obama was more comprehensive; Bush was much better. And now we have to hope that the President's strategy is more successful than his speech.

NRO's Hanson: "[N]ot Winston Churchill." In a December 1 post at National Review Online's blog The Corner naming "typical Obama talking points" in the speech, Victor Davis Hanson wrote:

Stanley Baldwin, not Winston Churchill. Not a word about the horrific nature of al-Qaeda and their nightmarish Taliban sponsors, and why both of them are going to fail in the manner that the terrorists and their supporters lost in Iraq. Somewhere in this cerebral but flat speech there is the good news that we won't quit Afghanistan - at least for 18 months - but otherwise it was the sort of talk a college provost gives to the faculty at the September back-to-school assembly.

Heritage Foundation's Gardiner: Obama "needed to display some Churchillian grit, but there was none on offer." In a December 2 UK Telegraph blog post, Nile Gardiner, director of the Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, wrote:

Speaking at West Point last night, Barack Obama badly needed to display some Churchillian grit, but there was none on offer. As Commander in Chief President Obama has to project leadership, strength and determination before his country and his foes, as well as offer reassurance to Washington's international allies. All were in short supply in front of the assembled cadets.

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